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- Week In Review: 8/16/14 – 8/22/14
- Quick Hits: Tigers, Gore, Norris, Cabrera, Walters
- Reactions To And Fallout From The Castillo Deal
- Red Sox Notes: Draft, Betts, Lester
- West Notes: Dodgers, Aiken, Padres, Posey, Angels
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Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers don’t expect to be able to find improvements from outside the organization to improve their offense down the stretch, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. “[T]he reality, is I don’t know where you’re going to find a bat to help your lineup. Runs are tough right now. It’s hard to find hitters right now.” Trades in August are difficult to complete due to waiver rules, and it doesn’t sound like the Tigers will be making any. Dombrowski also confirmed that Andy Dirks‘ hamstring injury will keep him out the rest of the season. Here’s more from around baseball.
- The Royals feel they need a pinch-runner, so outfielder Terrance Gore is likely to be promoted to the big leagues once rosters expand in September, even though he’s not on their 40-man roster, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. The 23-year-old is hitting just .225/.292/.262 in 305 plate appearances this year, most of them spent with Class A+ Wilmington. He does, however, have 44 stolen bases and has only been caught seven times.
- Top Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris is another potential callup, MLB.com’s Jamie Ross writes. “You could see him. No guarantees, but you might,” says Jays manager John Gibbons. The 21-year-old has zoomed through three levels this year, most recently striking out a ridiculous 32 batters in 16 2/3 innings with Triple-A Buffalo.
- Both the Nationals and Indians are happy so far with their deadline swap of Zach Walters and Asdrubal Cabrera, Bill Ladson and Daniel Popper of MLB.com report. Cabrera has played strong defense at second base in Washington, while Walters is off to a strong start in 35 plate appearances with Cleveland, hitting .212 with a .257 OBP, but with a terrific .576 slugging percentage even before homering tonight.
Andrew Miller‘s transition from the Red Sox to the Orioles has gone smoothly, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. “There’s a ton of differences. Things in general match up,” says Miller, for whom the Orioles traded at last month’s deadline. “The winning teams I’ve been on have a nice, loose clubhouse that expects to win.” Miller has pitched brilliantly in his first 7 1/3 innings with the Orioles, striking out 11 and walking three while allowing just two hits and one run. Here’s more from around the AL East.
- Carlos Beltran will see a doctor after feeling something wrong with his elbow while swinging last night, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. The Yankees scratched Beltran from their lineup tonight. It’s been a rough season for Beltran, who’s hit .233/.291/.416 (weak numbers for a DH/OF with little defensive value) while battling injury in the first year of a $45MM deal.
- Jon Lester is not likely to return to the Red Sox this offseason, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Instead, the Yankees and Cubs could emerge as possible suitors. It is, perhaps, no surprise that the Red Sox aren’t considered the favorites to sign him — they just traded him, and reportedly weren’t close in extension negotiations before that. Lester should be able to get a six- or seven-year deal in free agency, Heyman writes, and the Red Sox are likely to consider that to be too risky. Heyman does note, however, that the Red Sox may have been prepared to offer Lester five years and $100MM last month.
- The Blue Jays have promoted top outfield prospect Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Pompey, 21, hit .295/.378/.473 in 127 plate appearances at Double-A New Hampshire. MLB.com ranks Pompey the No. 3 prospect in the Jays’ system (behind Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez), praising his plate discipline and speed.
Yankees farmhand Pat Venditte is hoping to have a chance to be the first major leaguer to regularly employ a switch-pitching approach, as Newsday’s Jim Baumbach writes. Just like a switch-hitter, Venditte chooses which arm he’ll use to achieve the platoon advantage. (A rule crafted with him in mind requires the pitcher to choose which side he will throw from, with switch-hitting batters then permitted to pick a side of the box.) Venditte has been quite effective; he owns a 2.49 career ERA in the minors. This year, he dominated at Double-A before getting bumped to Triple-A, where he has a 3.75 ERA over 48 frames with 8.6 K/9 against just 2.8 BB/9. Across both levels, he has held righties to a .668 OPS, with lefties posting a meager .512 mark against his sidearm offerings (a mid-80s heater and a slider, one from each side).
Here’s more from the American League East:
- While Blue Jays watchers tend to have focused on the standing of GM Alex Anthopoulos, who reportedly will stay on past the present season, an even more important situation to watch is that of CEO Paul Beeston, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Beeston’s contract is said to be expiring this year, says Davidi, and other organizational changes signal that change could be afoot.
- Blue Jays righty Chad Jenkins has been one of several Toronto players to shuttle constantly between the majors and Triple-A this year, writes Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. The Jays have been the most active team in the league this year in optioning and recalling players, but Anthopoulos says that has resulted from an effort to avoid straining players on the major league roster. “We definitely haven’t used the waiver wire much this year,” Anthopoulos explained, “but we have consciously optioned players back and forth to avoid DL placements. That has absolutely been by design. … All players, especially relievers, realize that when the pen has been used a lot, those with options get sent out to protect the entire group, including the player being optioned.”
- Red Sox utilityman Jonathan Herrera will undergo season-ending surgery to deal with bone chips in his elbow, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The 29-year-old, who came over from the Rockies in an offseason deal, struggled to a .233/.307/.289 slash over 104 plate appearances on the year. He played on a $1.3MM salary this year, his second season of arbitration eligibility. Though his price tag will remain manageable, Herrera would appear to be a non-tender candidate.
The Blue Jays have claimed first baseman Matt Hague off waivers from the Pirates, Toronto announced via press release. Hague has been optioned to Triple-A.
Hague, 28, has only limited MLB experience but was swinging well this year at Triple-A Indianapolis, slashing .267/.365/.448 with 14 long balls over 386 trips to bat. Pittsburgh designated him for assignment (and ultimately exposed him to waivers) to make roster space for the acquisition of reliever John Axford.
Alex Anthopoulos will remain the GM of the Blue Jays following the 2014 season, reports Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. Anthopoulos has been under some scrutiny from fans, media, and even players over his failure to make a big acquisition at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have begun to lag in the AL playoff picture. They are four games back in the Wild Card race, but would have to pass the Mariners, Tigers, and Yankees to claim the second spot. One reason ownership is patient with Anthopoulos is the emergence of pitchers Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and minor leaguer Daniel Norris. Anthopoulos is signed through 2015.
- Also from Simmons, the Jays never actually approached ownership about expanding payroll because a deal was never close. Front office personnel do believe that more money is available for the right player.
- Related to a deal not being close, the Rays apparently wanted both Stroman and Hutchison in return for David Price. In my opinion, it’s understandable why that offer didn’t get anywhere. The Jays would have upgraded one rotation spot while creating a potential hole with another.
- Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Media, says the club is focused on the 2014 playoff run and has not evaluated offseason options, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. That would seemingly contradict Simmons’ report, although such comments are often pure double talk.
- Davidi also illuminated manager John Gibbons’ contract situation. Gibbons is signed through 2015 and will have a vesting option for 2016 triggered after December 31. His contract is structured to continuously add such options until it is terminated.
Top White Sox prospect and 2014 No. 3 overall draft pick Carlos Rodon has been promoted to Triple-A Charlotte, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets. As anticipated, Rodon has moved quickly through the minors — he pitched 9 2/3 innings with Class A+ Winston-Salem, striking out 15 batters while walking five. The promotion to Charlotte (for whom he’ll start on Tuesday) means he’s skipping Double-A, which in turn likely means the White Sox think he’s close to being ready for the Majors. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant left Saturday’s Triple-A Iowa Cubs game with a foot injury, Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register writes (Twitter links). The injury was the result of a foul ball Bryant struck off his foot a few days ago. His foot is being X-rayed. The seriousness of the injury is unclear, but his coaches did seem to know about it before tonight. Bryant’s departure from the game set off speculation that he had been promoted to the big leagues, but it does not appear that he has been. He has a ridiculous .306/.415/.648 line in 234 plate appearances so far with Iowa.
- Two MLB insiders believe that Addison Russell will eventually become the Cubs’ starting shortstop despite the team’s surplus there, Jorge Arangure of the New York Times reports. “From what I’ve seen, [Starlin] Castro moves for sure,” says one. “Russell has the edge over [Javier] Baez.” Baez, for his part, says he enjoys playing second base.
- The Blue Jays have optioned reliever Chad Jenkins to the minors five times this season, and he’s just one of several Blue Jays who have been optioned four or more times this year, Brendan Kennedy of TheStar.com writes. Kennedy points out that the Jays have made more non-trade, non-injury roster moves than any team this season, about 40% more than the average team. GM Alex Anthopoulos says the Blue Jays option players in order to avoid having other players land on the disabled list. “We definitely haven’t used the waiver wire much this year, but we have consciously optioned players back and forth to avoid DL placements,” he says. For example, the Jays have had Liam Hendriks spot start three times in order to get their starting pitchers more rest. Of course, Kennedy writes, a limited number of players can be optioned, and so all the Jays’ roster moves can have the effect of moving one group of players up and down regardless of how they perform.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says the team is trying to improve its bullpen, making waiver claims for relievers as recently as today, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. The Brewers’ bullpen got off to an extremely hot start in April but has struggled a bit since.
Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…
- Outfielder Chris Young has been given his released by the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The 30-year-old was recently designated for assignment after struggling for much of the season,. New York will remain on the hook for the rest of his $7.25MM salary this year (less any meager savings that might be achieved if he hooks on with another club at the league minimum rate).
- The Dodgers have inked righty Anthony Slama to a minor league deal, per the MLB transactions page. Slama, 30, saw brief action with the Twins in 2010-11, and has never played in another MLB organization. The reliever had a great 2012 Triple-A campaign, but struggled at the level last year and ended up with the indy league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs for 2014. Having allowed just two earned runs over 16 1/3 frames, he was picked up by a Los Angeles organization that has been looking for pitching depth.
- Designated for assignment by the Reds on Tuesday, outfielder Ryan LaMarre cleared release waivers and is now a free agent, tweets Cotillo. Cincinnati is talking with the 25-year-old about a new minor league deal, Cotillo adds.
- The Diamondbacks have signed right-hander Rob Wort to a minor league deal and assigned him to short-season Class-A, according to the team’s transactions page. Wort, a former Nationals farmhand, had been pitching for the independent American Association’s Sioux City Explorers. The 25-year-old posted a sparkling 0.97 ERA with a 58-to-14 K/BB ratio in 37 innings with Sioux City this season. The relief prospect has never had much of an issue striking hitters out, as he averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine in five seasons in the Nationals organization, though he never progressed beyond Double-A.
- Left-hander Brad Mills has accepted his outright assignment from the Blue Jays and will report to Triple-A Buffalo, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The 29-year-old southpaw, who is no stranger to being designated for assignment this season, was most recently DFA’ed by the Jays on Tuesday this week. He will look to continue his excellent Triple-A work in hopes of receiving another crack at the MLB roster.
In an appearance on WAAF’s Hill-Man Morning Show, Jon Lester explained recent comments that he wouldn’t necessarily go to the highest bidder this offseason (via WEEI’s Rob Bradford). “…I don’t need to go to the highest bidder if that isn’t going to make me happy,” said Lester. “I’m not going to just take the highest bid, the money, the most years just because it’s in front of you. … I make decisions based on me and my family and is this place — whether it’s Boston or one of the other 29 teams – is this place going to be good for me and my family?” Lester did note that he could still end up signing the highest bidder, of course, but the happiness of his family will be the top priority. Lester also repeated that he doesn’t have any hard feelings toward the Red Sox, and he discussed his farewell to owner John Henry as well.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos appeared on Sportsnet 590 The Fan with Mike Wilner and Ben Ennis today, and Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith provides some of the highlights. Of particular note was the fact that Anthopoulos said top prospect Daniel Norris could be a factor out of the team’s bullpen in September if he continues to pitch well. The 21-year-old Norris has skyrocketed up prospect rankings this year on the heels of a 2.25 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 108 innings across Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A.
- Nicholson-Smith also writes that the Blue Jays have made several waiver claims this month, but none have resulted in the acquisition of a new player. The team isn’t expected to make a trade today, but it will need to clear a roster spot for the returning Edwin Encarnacion. Nicholson-Smith notes that the Jays are willing to cut ties with out-of-options players, and Anthopoulos has expressed some frustration with Juan Francisco‘s strikeout tendencies. However, he adds that the Blue Jays do value Francisco’s left-handed power.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner isn’t committing to bringing back longtime general manager Brian Cashman in 2015, but the Yankee GM tells George A. King III of the New York Post that he’s not bothered by the situation. “That’s the process,” said Cashman, whose contract expires after the 2014 season. “There isn’t much to say at this point. That’s for another day.” Steinbrenner’s comments to King were of a similar nature, as he chose to focus on the season at hand rather than the future of his GM.
- Steinbrenner also says he’s had no recent conversations with Alex Rodriguez, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, but the Yankees are expecting A-Rod to return in 2015 following his 162-game suspension. The 39-year-old former MVP has three years and $61MM remaining on his contract.
Here are the day’s minor moves …
- The Blue Jays have outrighted southpaw Brad Mills to Triple-A Buffalo, according to the team’s transactions page. Mills, 29, was designated for assignment by the Jays on Tuesday and will have the option to elect free agency rather than report to Triple-A, having been outrighted in the past. He has a 9.15 ERA in 20 2/3 Major League innings this season but a sensational 1.81 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings between the Triple-A affiliates for Milwaukee and Toronto this season.
- After clearing waivers, righty Ernesto Frieri has accepted an assignment to the Pirates‘ Triple-A affiliate, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com reports on Twitter. After starting the season as the Angels’ closer, Frieri was dealt to Pittsburgh and then designated for assignment when he failed to right the ship. Though other clubs might have been willing to take a chance on him, Frieri’s $3.8MM first-year arbitration salary no doubt scared off any claims. It seems all but certain at this point that Frieri will end up being non-tendered in the offseason.
The Blue Jays have claimed lefty Colt Hynes off waivers from the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. Hynes, 29, was designated for assignment on Sunday to clear roster space for Kevin Correia.
Hynes has spent the entire season to date at Triple-A, working to a 4.08 ERA across 53 innings of relief, with 7.8 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9. He has limited MLB experience, with just 22 appearances to his credit last year with the Padres. Unsurprisingly, Hynes was much better against same-handed hitters, though the actual split (.602 OPS by lefties; 1.260 OPS by righties) is rather dramatic.